Life: Roller Coaster or Conveyor Belt?

This poem came to me after a spirited debate I had with Glen several months ago about what life is. What it feels like. What it truly is all about. We didn’t settle it but we did land on a question that I have been contemplating ever since: Is life a roller coaster or a conveyor belt? I even made a craft project about it!

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Some may say that the answer to this question is about perspective, but for me, it was also about something more. I agree that there is something to the conventional wisdom that life is all about how you choose to view it. Cup half empty or cup half full, etc. etc. etc. However, as someone who is indecisive, I constantly feel and hold opposite feelings, truths, and perspectives at the same time. I have learned to openly embrace my “duality superpower” so this wisdom just doesn’t work for me. And something just kept gnawing at me about this question. Something asking me to dive deeper. Something that was calling me to explore and unpack this question in a way that makes sense for me.  The result of the unpacking and deep dive was this poem.

Life: roller coaster or conveyor belt?

Some days life is a conveyor belt.
Bland. Beige. Boring.
You focus on refinement and replication.
It’s all a copy.
Some of it you but not all of it.
You surrender.
You duplicate.
It gets old quickly.
The repetition is comfortable but it stifles your mind.
You walk away.
You break free.
You see a glimpse of yourself.
It’s liberating until it’s scary.
These days life feels like a roller coaster.
Fast. Full. Frantic.
Unpredictable and undeniably out your of control.
The twists scare your mind.
The turns churn your stomach.
Shivers rise from your feet to your eyes.
All you can’t control overwhelms you.
You freeze.
You tense up.
You worry.
Then one day it dawns on you:
Isn’t a rollercoaster just a bigger, loopier, more colorful conveyor belt?
The bright colors hug your eyes.
The wind caresses your skin and runs through your hair.
You are surrounded by weightless beauty.
You surrender.
You reflect.
You create.
You choose.
And you break free once again.
This time forever…

Sidenote: I also feel like perhaps there is an in-between place, something that is not as boring as a conveyor belt and not as loopy and unpredictable as a roller coaster. Perhaps a merry-go-round? Its circular and repetitive but not as boring. Colorful and not as loopy. All of these options are just bigger, loopier, and more colorful versions of one another. What they all have in common is their circular nature. Its like Pema Chodran says, life is just a series of things that come together and then fall apart over and over. So the main difference here is really just decor. If there is anything that my obsession with HGTV has taught me, its that decor is always the thing that makes a room or home come together or fall apart.  So for me that is what life is. A series cyclical decor changes that I am at choice to make. They each bring with them perspective, purpose, and sometimes boredom. There is also growth, wisdom, and movement in each. The notion that these metaphors for life (the conveyor belt, the roller coaster, and the merry-go-round) are all just bigger more decorated versions one another feels liberating to me.

What do you think? What metaphor best describes the way you see life? Send me a note. I’d love to know! Thanks for reading.

-D

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